Opinion Pieces

Provide for the Common Defense

National Security in the 21st Century

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Cincinnati, May 6, 2013 | comments

As published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on May 5, 2013


Do you have an account with a daily deal website? Last week, Living Social lost the data of 50 million users, including their names, email addresses, and passwords, to online hackers. How about banking online? Nearly every national bank has reported cyber intrusions in the last year. These attacks are too often launched from computers in China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

Those who seek to harm U.S. interests are using increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, compromising internet accounts and networks to steal our personal information and shut down our national commerce. These events not only cause disruptions online, but seek to disable our national infrastructure and commerce.

Just last month, when the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Associated Press’s Twitter account and published fake news, that false information caused the American stock market to lose $135 billion of value in 17 seconds.

Chinese-affiliated groups have targeted a company with remote access to 60 percent of North America’s oil and gas pipelines. In the last year, hackers have infiltrated financial institutions, newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, and critical infrastructure systems like our national dam inventory.

These are real threats and real attacks. I’ve sat in the classified briefings that detail the threats. We can no longer afford to leave our systems vulnerable to a catastrophic attack.  Inaction is no longer acceptable.

One solution is to empower the private sector to voluntarily collaborate in efforts to thwart these attacks. This month, I supported a series of solutions for these 21st century threats. This included the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act, more commonly known as CISPA. This legislation, passed by the House, empowers private entities to voluntarily share information only related to specific cyber threats in order to better secure their customers’ personal data and information.

If Living Social or the AP had access to information about previous cyber attacks, they could have stopped them. Unfortunately current law, much of it written before the Internet even existed, prevents this kind of common sense collaboration.

Many fear that it will give the government unfettered access to every byte of our private information online. This isn’t true.

This issue has generated a lot of interest from my constituents in southern Ohio. My job is to listen, represent, and serve you. I appreciate the opportunity to explain my vote and address some of the frequent concerns regarding CISPA.

I’ve long had a healthy skepticism of government overreach. That is why the privacy protections included in this bill were so important in my decision to support it. In the past year, 27 different provisions were added to increase the security of our private information and prevent misuse by the government.

CISPA creates no new government authorities. It enhances our privacy protections in the Information Age.

Under this measure, any interaction with the government is voluntary and strictly limited to cyber threats. Nothing allows the government to store troves of data or lets government bureaucrats roam through our emails and records without a warrant. The bill creates both government and non-government oversight measures by requiring annual public reporting on the government’s handling and use of any shared information. Additionally, the bill sunsets in five years so Congress can reexamine the issue as technology evolves.

This voluntary sharing is comparable to how the police would look at broken windows and doors when investigating a residential break-in, but would not dig through your personal files just because they are in your house. Sharing cyber threat data allows other companies to prevent foreign hackers from using the same methods to steal your personal data.

Not surprisingly, President Obama and his Senate allies oppose the House-passed bill because they would prefer to impose a top-down, regulatory nightmare that would place costly security mandates on private companies. Some of their proposals have gone as far as to propose an Internet kill switch, tactics more common in Egypt and China than America. Knowing that we must act, I will always champion private sector solutions over government mandates.

The internet is and will continue to be the backbone of our 21st century economy, whether it’s online discount hunting on Living Social or remotely monitoring our national infrastructure. I’m proud to stand with private sector advocates like the Chamber of Commerce and liberty advocates like the Heritage Foundation in support of this legislation.

As technology expands in the Information Age, we must continue to protect our timeless civil liberties while simultaneously ensuring that our ecommerce, cloud computing, and networked infrastructure remain free and secure.

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